U.S. pulls out of United Nations cultural organisation

13 October, 2017, 00:27 | Author: Brian Mcdaniel
  • Berlin Holocaust memorial Germany

Travelers are likely to be most familiar with Unesco through its world heritage sites such as the Grand Canyon National Park and Yellowstone National Park in the US.

The US is pulling out of the UN's cultural organisation Unesco, accusing it of "anti-Israel" bias.

The decision follows a string of UNESCO decisions that have drawn criticism from the USA and Israel.

"At the time when conflicts continue to tear apart societies across the world, it is deeply regrettable for the United States to withdraw from the United Nations agency promoting education for peace and protecting culture under attack", she said. After he was elected but before he became president, Mr. Trump made an extraordinary intervention on the world stage by criticizing the Obama administration's decision not to block a United Nations resolution criticizing Israeli settlements. "This is a loss for multilateralism".

The United States, meanwhile, has indicated its desire to continue to work with UNESCO "as an observer country without being a member of this worldwide structure".

Israel has accused UNESCO of making a politically motivated move, part of what it says is an attempt to deny the Jewish character and heritage of certain key sites in the Holy Land. Permanent Representative to the UN Nikki Haley has repeatedly denounced these actions, and said the USA was "evaluating" whether or not it should continue as a member of the organization.

The resolution also criticised Israel's activities at holy places in Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank.

But the United States has at times had an ambivalent relationship with the Paris-based organization.

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She recalled that in 2011, after the suspension of Washington's financial participation in the organization, she said that "UNESCO has never been more important to the United States, and the United States has never been so important to UNESCO".

The organisation, which employs around 2,000 people worldwide, majority based in Paris, has struggled for relevance as it becomes increasingly hobbled by regional rivalries and a lack of money. "Until then, the United States will remain a full member of UNESCO", the State Department representative summed up.

Following years of tension at UNESCO, which is in the process of electing a new director-general, US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert announced that Washington planned to withdraw.

But President Donald Trump's administration is also reviewing many of its multilateral commitments, pursuing what he calls an "America First" policy.

Since Trump took office, the United States has abandoned the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade talks and withdrawn from the Paris climate deal.

"The absence of the United States or any large country with a lot of power is a loss".

UNESCO is responsible for coordinating global cooperation in education, science, culture and communication. It will become a mere "observer state", with no dues paid and no contribution to how the organization is run.

She said "politicisation" had "taken its toll" on the organisation in recent years. Hamad bin Abdulaziz al-Kawari of Qatar and Audrey Azoulay of France - both former culture ministers - had 18 votes apiece in the battle to replace Ms. Bokova. One will be eliminated after another vote by 58-member Executive Council on Friday.

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